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How the Oilers blew out the Panthers to avoid a Stanley Cup sweep: 5 takeaways

How the Oilers blew out the Panthers to avoid a Stanley Cup sweep: 5 takeaways

EDMONTON — Two days after Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid channeled his inner Yogi Berra by asking fans to stick with the team because “it’s not over until it’s over,” Edmonton avoided elimination and swept the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night by shelling the Florida Panthers 8-1 at Rogers Stadium. Bliss electrician.

McDavid scored his first goal of the series and added three assists to break Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record for assists in a single season (32). Dylan Holloway added two goals for the Oilers, and Matthijs Janmark, Adam Henrique, Darnell Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan McLeod scored the others. Stuart Skinner made 32 saves.

McDavid has 23 points His nine-game losing streak this season, passing Doug Gilmour’s mark of 20 set in 1993. The most in a single gap year in NHL history.

He leads the league with 38 postseason points, the most points in a playoff year among active players. Evgeni Malkin was 36 years old in 2009.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored for the Panthers, whose six-game winning streak is history. The loss came after players’ families and staff were chartered to Edmonton on Saturday in case a Stanley Cup celebration was held in enemy territory.

Instead, the Oilers became the fourth straight team to win Game 4 to extend the series after losing the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. The others are the Montreal Canadiens in 2021, the New York Rangers in 2014, and the New Jersey Devils in 2012.

“It only counts as one win,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. “It doesn’t matter how much we lose, 2-1 or 8-1, or win 2-1 or 8-1. … Obviously we need to bounce back and recover now and think about the next stage.

Game 5 will be played in South Florida on Tuesday night.

Here are five quick points on how the Oilers are putting together a blowout.

Finally the oil workers cracked Bob

After allowing four goals in the first three games of the series and holding a .953 save percentage in Game 4, Sergei Bobrovsky was chased out of the net after his fifth goal allowed on 11 shots 4:59 into the second period. Anthony Stolarz came in relief for his first postseason appearance.

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Florida’s previous worst loss in the postseason was a 5-1 Game 1 defeat to the Boston Bruins in the second round, which was also the last time Bobrovsky allowed three goals in one period. He allowed three on the first Saturday.

Bobrovsky lost his net past shortstop Janmark for a 1-0 lead, Holloway’s shot went under his pad and he was beaten by Nurse. It was the most goals Bobrovsky had allowed since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final.

“Everybody’s human,” Oilers wing Zach Hyman said. “You’ve got to keep going, you’ve got to keep showing up and eventually something will happen. Obviously we had a good look tonight and we were able to overcome it. We have to do it again.”

Janmark starts the Oilers’ offense

In a team with so many influential players, Janmark ranks very low on the attacking list. Yet, with the Oilers’ season on the line, he was there to start the offense.

Less than 25 seconds after Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart hit the post back-to-back on the power play, Janmark opened the scoring at 3:11 by tapping in a short one-two with partner Connor taking the penalty kick. Brown prepares it. It wasn’t quite as pretty as when the two Wings connected in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final to score the first special teams goal of that series, but the result was the same. With the scoring, Janmark became the first Oiler to score two short-handed goals in a single playoff game since Todd Marchant did so in 1997.

But he’s not finished yet. He stretched the ball to Henrique in the crease for an easy goal just 4:37 later to give the Oilers a two-goal lead — their first of the series. Henrique’s goal was the winner.

The Oilers had a lot of big offensive plays in Game 4, but Janmark got the ball rolling. Their season may not have survived without him.

McDavid’s teacher

McDavid took over the game in the second half and etched his name in the record books because of it.

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He was involved in all three goals the Oilers scored in the middle frame, scoring once and adding two assists. The second of those helpers gave him 31 in the postseason, tying Gretzky’s standard from the 1988 playoffs, which he later passed.

McDavid’s exploits during the second half put the game out of reach as they extended the lead to 6-1 for the home team.

He took a pass from Zach Hyman inside the Panthers’ blue line and tore down the side of a shot blocker on Bobrovsky 1:13 into the clip. He then left a drop pass for Nurse, who went top shelf over the Panthers goaltender just 3:46 later. His record-breaking assist came on Nugent-Hopkins’ double goal at 13:03, the record being Holloway’s second goal of the night.

“It’s unbelievable,” Heyman said. “I don’t think a lot of people think any of Wayne’s stats are achievable. He’s great. I think Connor is putting together one of the best postseasons. He’s the guy that puts everyone down. He’s taken that burden on. Any time our team is up against The wall is the first to retreat.

McDavid is considered the best player in the league and one of the greatest players of all time for a reason. Saturday only bolstered his resume.

Big names of oil workers are participating in the party

Aside from McDavid, the Oilers’ top forwards have been unusually quiet in the first three games of the series. Leon Draisaitl, Hyman and Nugent-Hopkins were all pointless — a big reason why the Oilers are in a huge hole.

That all changed in Game 4.

Draisaitl had two assists — the first when he set up Holloway off the rush and the second when his only timer on the power play created a rebound goal.

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Hyman didn’t add to his 14 goals in the playoffs, but he tied Draisaitl in the assist category. He asked McDavid to provide his first assist and then provide secondary support in Nurse’s first qualifier.

Nugent-Hopkins cleaned up Draisaitl’s mess to make sure the Panthers were completely out of it.

The Oilers needed their big weapons to make an impact in this series. McDavid had three assists and doubled his production in Game 4. His star teammates followed suit, which could be a good omen as the series returns to South Florida.

“It’s one win,” Hyman said. “It’s one win closer. The mentality is the same. The belief is the same. But it’s good to go and do it and get the win and get past the goalie and show we can do it and put a little bit of doubt on the other side.”

Tkachuk down and dirty

While leading the Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final a year ago, it seemed like all the big things happened to Kakczuk. There were overtime goals, game-winners, big hits, and they were a constant threat.

But Tkachuk has yet to have a big moment in the postseason.

He has scored one goal in his last 15 games, one assist in his last six games and is lacking any kind of spark at the moment. In this series, he has zero goals, one assist and 11 shots in four matches.

In Game 4 on Saturday, frustration boiled over in the second period when Tkachuk, the former Calgary Flame hater, grabbed McDavid and began unloading back-to-back cuts. When that was done, Sam Bennett entered the fray and landed a few cheap shots on McDavid, his former teammate.

Tkachuk and Bennett each had two minors, and Nugent-Hopkins scored in two minutes on a five-on-three go for a 6-1 lead.

(Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)